When you think about creating a site here at the University of Arkansas, branding is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. You might think it doesn’t apply to you. The site you’re creating is for a lab, class, or a personal site – it doesn’t need a brand! You might not think about branding at all; however, we want to help you receive recognition for your hard work on your site. Deciding on a brand for yourself is especially helpful to get others to pay attention.
Keep a clear and consistent message.
One of the most important things when planning out content for your site is to think about a message to send your audience. It’s the same as marketing a product. I have a friend who helps companies get their products into Wal-Mart, and marketing is part of that process. For example, one of his clients had major success selling bulk dried mushrooms in China, but couldn’t get them to sell the same way in the United States. My friend looked at the front of product and saw that it was a large, clear bag of mushrooms. The bag had some small text and labels, but there was no clear communication of the company or logo, no design, and most importantly, it wasn’t clear the bag contained dried mushrooms. After some advising, they designed a new bag with a clear, consistent message, and sales picked right up.
The same goes for a site here at the University. To you, it may be clear what the site you’re creating is about, but if that message isn’t clear and consistent to your users, then people may not stay or come back to the site. Being clear and consistent means keeping images, videos, text, logo, links, etc., all consistent and tied to one brand. Branding is about choosing and maintaining a single consistent message, so when people want information about your class, lab, or professor, they know with certainty the one-stop place they need to go.
What is your site, and who is coming to visit?
One of our previous posts by Gina Know Your Audience and Design Accordingly covered how to design for your audience, and the same is important when thinking of a brand for yourself. A good brand should be tied to the audience. That means whatever one message you decide on should be appropriate and something your audience wants/needs.
The perks of branding well are clear when done right. There is the obvious one, which is getting more people to your site and for your work to be seen. Another bonus is that your site might move up the ranks in Google. Google thinks similarly to people. Let’s say your site is about monkeys. If Google sees that your site is only about monkeys, any time someone searches “monkeys” in Google, it will be towards the top of the search list. That doesn’t just happen by chance. Google looks at the logo, title, image text, image subtext, pages, subpages, and essentially everything about your site. If your site has one page about monkeys and another about elephants, Google thinks your site isn’t as good of a match, but if it sees that your logo, images, and pages are all monkeys, Google thinks your site is the best match.